You were the first man that I ever loved.
You were supposed to be my protector and shield against all the big, bad things that the world had in store. You used to cradle me, sing lullabies, when I was gently pulling at my eyelashes – that’s how you knew I was tired. You used to encourage my reading habits, though you moaned and groaned about the number of books I carried home each week. After one particularly bad fight, you came to my room and held me as hot tears streaked down my face and said, “Don’t worry, baby. It’ll be okay.” It’s the only time that I can remember you calling using such a nickname to describe me.
Not even when I came to the house crying on prom night, you asked me if my date had done anything to me and I told you no because nothing happened, you didn’t press the issue, didn’t comfort me any further. Guess by that time I was too old. But where were you for the others that actually did hurt me to ask that same question?
I wonder why you left. If you couldn’t handle it, why couldn’t you just say that? It would’ve been much easier than just to leave without an explanation, absolutely helpless as I try to tell others that you’ve been away for so long because … I don’t have an answer. I can make excuses that stretch as far as the moon and beyond, but the truth is there is no good one to justify why you left me. Not one that’s enough to convince me or anyone else.
You can paint the picture as bleakly as you want, but I can too. I know what happened through my experiences and my emotions. That’s all I can attest to because it’s all that I have. It’s all that I’ve had for years – my imagination has to fill in the rest for what your reasoning(s) must have been. It all circles back to he’s just not that into you.
Maybe it’s too hard looking at me and being reminded of the past and the failures and the hurts, but what about my pain? All that communicated to me was that you were more concerned with alleviating you own pain and discomfort over mine because you held yourself in higher regard – you just don’t love me enough.
I want – truly, need – to be able to say “I love you” to a man that I care and mean it earnestly, but the relationship that the we had leaves me wondering if you couldn’t love me enough to stick around, how would I ever be able to make another man believe that I love him too? How could I ever convince another man not to leave me for deep-seated issues that I can’t even understand myself that manifest in ways that continually keep him at bay? I fear that I will always hold someone new at leg’s length to keep him from getting too close. I put my guard up immediately, won’t allow myself to begin to crack through that wall. I can count on half a hand those that I’ve let in and they’ve barely scaled the first floor of the castle I’ve built – though I doubt they realize that. I’m unsure if my heart could handle two heartbreaks of this magnitude.
So now I’m left trying to figure out this love thing on my own with advice from others who’ve kinda been there but don’t understand – they’re just as lost as I am. I have no great love to base any subsequent relationships off of; instead, I stumble through, getting a little better as I move through each one. They can’t comprehend; I can’t fully explain. There are so many layers to this onion that as soon as one is peeled off, seven more follow in its place, jumbling everything into one big mess.
Somewhere, up until today, I think I had been holding onto the idea that if I did enough and had enough success that you’d be proud enough to come back and love me that way that I always knew I deserved. But it seemed the more I did, the less you noticed and I’m all out of steam. People keep telling me to keep fighting to preserve it and to hold it together because it’s possibly the most important relationships I’ll ever have – but I won’t keep fighting.
The love is gone, the side has been chosen and I, once again and forevermore, stand on the side without you.
The choices that you have made, the steps that you have taken have led you to think that it is me who is losing out on something. I know this because you have told me this on several occasions. The truth is I will never lose for not having you in my life like you should have been. It is not my loss. It is all yours.
Every time I speak to you, there are things I want to say but don’t – I struggle to string the words together in the right way. After you’re gone, everything rushes back to me in perfectly formed thoughts, but by then it’s too late. When I think of you, it’s hard to sift through to the good because it’s been so long since there’s been any at all. There is not one single memory that comes to mind that does not bring tears of frustration or sadness to my eyes.
The excuses about why you couldn’t do this or that for me. You always said, “We’ll see,” which always meant no. There were conditions for so many things in my life – a trip to Washington, D.C., going to dances, even buying books from the Scholastic Book Fair at school. Berating me for (by all accounts) respectfully speaking my mind when I tried to tell you how I felt about your absence in my life. Encouraging the vast majority of your family treat me as if I was a second-class citizen, some thing that was to be avoided at all times. That is probably what cuts the deepest. You didn’t have to be bothered, but preventing me from continuing to form relationships with others that I loved is most unforgivable. There are two people that have left this earth that I will never have the opportunity to get to know; all I have are memories held from when I was a child … and what I heard at a funeral or read about in an obituary.
The silver lining is that I’ve come to realize what an amazing, beautiful, courageous, energetic, daring, funny, giving, humble, intelligent, jaunty, kooky, loving, mature, nerdy, optimistic, powerful, quizzical, respectful, sassy, tempered, uplifted, victorious, warm-hearted, Xena-strengthed, yielding, zealous young woman.
I have so many people to thank for that – you included.
Still, I don’t have closure. I may never have closure, even after you and I have departed this world. This very well could be my final attempt at it. I don’t understand how I could have become a throwaway, simple conversation piece to you to embed when you want to make a good impression on someone.
“Our past may explain why we suffer, but we must not use it as an excuse to stay in bondage.” Joyce Meyer told me this yesterday in a reading and I don’t think any message has ever hit me as hard. I have suffered at the hands of your painful words, manipulation, secrets. Not anymore. What has happened has happened; it will never change. What changes is the way that I walk through the world from today on, lighter than ever before without this weight on my heart. One that is ready to let go of all of this and move on, allow love to flow into and from it. To accept the love that I deserve, to allow myself to love without limits or conditions. Which simply leaves me with this: